A Spreadsheet-Based Grocery Store Price Comparison that will Have You Saving Money on Groceries

Whether you're hard pressed for cash or trying to justify an extravagant purchase by cutting costs elsewhere, you can benefit from comparing prices at your local grocery stores to discover which store offers the most savings.  You might be surprised to hear that different stores offer better savings to different types of people.  I will show you how to find which local grocery store offers the most savings for you.  I will also give you an example of grocery store prices compared across Safeway, Trader Joe's, and Lucky's, as well as time and location that can give you a general idea of what your own price comparison will look like.

Why do it yourself?

You are probably well aware of the fact that there are many online sites that allow you to hunt for deals on groceries, as well as compare prices across stores.  Why, then, should you bother with your own research? Here are some major benefits of doing your own grocery store price comparisons:

  • Avoidance of data overload:  Many price comparison websites offer so much information, it takes longer to find that which is relevant to you than it would to simply collect your own information
  • Accuracy: Some prices on websites are outdated or not relevant to your particular location, as different grocery stores, even those that are part of the same chain, will run different promotions at different times, and may consistently price products differently, not to mention carry different brands
  • Mindfulness: A large part of getting one's budget under control involves actually thinking about the cost of certain things and being truly aware of one's expenditures.  Carefully looking at the cost of certain grocery purchases over time will help make you more aware of what is really putting a dent in your monthly food budget, and you might even find easy ways to cut extra expenses (e.g. "Wow - I was paying $20 a month on pre-cooked rice? I'll just make my own over the weekend in a big batch and package it into smaller portions for the week on my own")

How to determine which local grocery store offers you the most savings

  1. Start a spreadsheet with the following columns: food name, price, store, date, location (optional) and category. Feel free to add more categories if you like (e.g. Notes - should you want to make a note to never buy something again because it was super gross!)
  2. Do your grocery shopping at different local grocery stores; buy what you normally buy
  3. Record items in each grocery receipt in your spreadsheet until you have a decent collection of prices to compare
  4. Look over the date you've collected - sort through columns by store, food, or category to find which store offers the best price on your major staples
  5. If you find that one store in particular offers better prices for a lot of the things you buy, go with that one!

At the bottom of this page you will find an example of a grocery price comparison spreadsheet I added to on and off over several months. Play around with the sorting, and you'll see how you can easily evaluate and compare prices across stores, locations, dates, and categories.

Why does this work?

A local grocery store that may offer the most savings for one person may be more expensive for another.  Why?  Well, perhaps one person is a vegetarian and purchases a lot of organic produce - this person would save more by shopping mostly at a grocery store that has reasonably priced organic fruits and vegetables.  Another person might be shopping for a large family and likes to buy a lot of pre-made meals - this person would save more money by shopping somewhere where such products are very competitively priced.  Yet another person might be a big wine buff-  this individual could save more by regularly shopping at a grocery store with great bargains on wine.

By only focusing on the expenses that are relevant to you (e.g. only the things you buy), you'll be able to see which store offers the best prices on those things.

Have any comments? Share them! (And scroll further down to see an example of the spreadsheet) 6 comments

livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

Wow, TJ's really is MUCH cheaper than Safeway or Lucky. What an analysis! I laughed at your "the good kind" descriptor of that kind of hummus TJ's carries - I know EXACTLY which one you're talking about. :)


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Yeah, TJ's really rocks, and it came as a surprise to me that they are the better bargain, especially since the quality is so good! Madness. MADNESS!

And that hummus is SO GOOD, hahaa!


chan0512 profile image

chan0512 5 years ago from Camarillo, CA

Great tips as always. The below table info is great for quick comparison as well. I guess, I'll need to visit TJ more often. :)


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks chan0512 - and do have a look at TJ's :D Apparently they're a pretty good option!


sunflowerbucky profile image

sunflowerbucky 5 years ago from Small Town, USA

Great idea! Voted up and useful!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I've been meaning to create a spreadsheet to help me keep track of sales and compare prices. I'll have to get on it.

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    An Example of Personal Grocery Price Comparison

    (click column header to sort results)
    Object  
    Price  
    Store  
    Date  
    Location  
    Category  
    Cocoa, dutched, 8 oz
    3.99
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Baking
    Cocoa, dutched, 8 oz
    3.65
    Safeway
    1.24.10
    DC
    Baking
    Eggs, dozen, AA, cage free
    2.49
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Baking
    Eggs, dozen, X large, brown, cage free
    3.79
    Safeway
    9.11.10
    SF
    Baking
    Flour, all purpose
    2.99
    Trader Joe's
    11.13.10
    SF
    Baking
    Molasses, Briar Rabbit
    3.69
    Safeway
    10.2.10
    SF
    Baking
    Tahini
    6.49
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Baking
    Bread (1 ww loaf)
    2
    Safeway
    1.24.10
    DC
    Bread
    Bread, lovesticks
    2.99
    Trader Joe's
    10.9.10
    SF
    Bread
    Bread, Pita, Whole wheat apocryphal pita
    1.29
    Trader Joe's
    2.14.10
    DC
    Bread
    Bread, whole wheat, soft
    2.49
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Bread
    English muffins, whole wheat, 10
    1.49
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Bread
    English muffins, whole wheat, 6
    2
    Safeway
    1.17.10
    DC
    Bread
    Mini whole wheat bagels, 12
    3.79
    Safeway
    1.31.10
    DC
    Bread
    Mini ww bagels (Peppridge)
    3.79
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Bread
    Oats, quick
    3.99
    Safeway
    2.21.10
    DC
    Bread
    Tortillas, corn, small, 27
    2.09
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Bread
    Tortillas, mission, white, 30, 779 grams
    1.89
    Safeway
    11.6.10
    SF
    Bread
    Tortillas, White Corn, Mission
    1.99
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Bread
    Hummus, the flat, good kind you mix
    2.99
    Trader Joe's
    10.9.10
    SF
    Condiments
    Sauce, jalapeno, hot
    1.99
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Condiments
    Butter, Lucerne, two sticks
    1.99
    Safeway
    10.2.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cheese, cottage, Lucerne
    3.99
    Safeway
    10.9.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cheese, cream, soft spreadable light
    2.69
    Trader Joe's
    10.9.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cheese, mozzarella, Lucerne
    4.99
    Safeway
    10.9.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cheese, parmesan (Safeway brand)
    3.49
    Safeway
    2.21.10
    DC
    Dairy
    Cottage cheese
    3.49
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cottage Cheese, Lucerne
    3.99
    Safeway
    9.11.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cream cheese, Lucerne
    2.79
    Safeway
    9.11.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cream Cheese, Philadelphia Light
    1.99
    Safeway
    2.21.10
    DC
    Dairy
    Goat cheese, herbed, 5 oz
    2.49
    Trader Joe's
    11.6.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Cream Cheese, Philadelphia Light
    2.49
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Dairy
    Milk, evaporated, skim, canned
    1.09
    Safeway
    11.13.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Milk, nonfat, quart
    1.29
    Safeway
    10.9.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Milk, nonfat, quart
    1.29
    Trader Joe's
    11.13.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Yogurt, Lucerne
    1.99
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Dairy
    Yogurt, Mountain High, LARGE
    4.98
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Yogurt, nonfat, lucerne
    2.69
    Safeway
    10.9.10
    SF
    Dairy
    Yogurt, organic (30oz)
    2.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Dairy
    Eggs, dozen, organic, brown
    3.49
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Eggs
    Eggs, dozen, organic, cage free
    2.69
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Eggs
    Apples, organic, gala, bag
    4.99
    Safeway
    10.9.10
    SF
    Fruit
    Apples, small, organic, 6
    2.49
    Trader Joe's
    2.14.10
    DC
    Fruit
    Bananas (10)
    2.69
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Fruit
    Bananas (10)
    1.9
    Trader Joe's
    2.14.10
    DC
    Fruit
    Bananas, by pound
    0.79
    Safeway
    10.9.10
    SF
    Fruit
    Cantaloupe
    3.49
    Safeway
    1.24.10
    DC
    Fruit
    Cantaloupe
    1.88
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Fruit
    Cantaloupe
    3
    Safeway
    2.21.10
    DC
    Fruit
    Cantaloupe, Melon (sale off 2.99)
    1.99
    Safeway
    9.11.10
    SF
    Fruit
    Brita water filter
    7.99
    Safeway
    1.31.10
    DC
    Other
    Chickenless patties, Morning Star (reg. 4.99)
    3.99
    Safeway
    11.13.10
    SF
    Prepared foods
    Chickenless stuffed cutlet
    4.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Prepared foods
    Madras Lentils
    1.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Prepared Foods
    Vegetable broth, organic
    1.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Prepared foods
    Apples, grannysmith, organic, per pound
    2.49
    Safeway
    11.13.10
    SF
    Produce
    Apples, Organic, Granny smith, 1 pound
    1.49
    Safeway
    11.6.10
    SF
    Produce
    Bananas (each)
    0.19
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Produce
    Broccoli, crowns, per pound
    1.99
    Safeway
    11.6.10
    SF
    Produce
    Broccoli, crowns, per pound
    1.79
    Safeway
    11.13.10
    SF
    Produce
    Broccoli, small bunch
    2.29
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Produce
    Carrots, organic
    0.79
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Produce
    Carrots, organic (20oz)
    0.89
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Produce
    Carrots, organic, whole, 450 grams
    0.79
    Trader Joe's
    10.9.10
    SF
    Produce
    Cauliflower
    2.99
    Safeway
    1.24.10
    DC
    Produce
    Cauliflower
    2.99
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Produce
    Cauliflower
    1.79
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Produce
    Frozen Broccoli Florets
    1.29
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Produce
    Frozen green beans
    1.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Produce
    Frozen peas and carrots
    2.5
    Safeway
    2.21.10
    DC
    Produce
    Frozen Peas, 20 oz
    1.29
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Produce
    Green beans, 1 pound
    1.99
    Safeway
    11.6.10
    SF
    Produce
    Green beans, tray
    2.49
    Trader Joe's
    10.9.10
    SF
    Produce
    green beans, pre-trimmed
    3.49
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Produce
    Green beans, tray
    2.49
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Produce
    Onion, yellow sweet
    1.27
    Safeway
    2.21.10
    DC
    Produce
    Potatoes, 1 pound, small
    1.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Produce
    Pumpkin, sugar
    1.99
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Produce
    Curry paste (Thai red)
    4.99
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Sauces
    Marinara, Tomato Basil
    1.79
    Trader Joe's
    11.13.10
    SF
    Sauces
    Tomato sauce, Ragu
    2
    Safeway
    1.24.10
    DC
    Sauces
    Tomato sauce, Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
    1.79
    Trader Joe's
    10.9.10
    SF
    Sauces
    Almond butter, roasted
    4.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Spreads
    Hummus
    4.99
    Safeway
    1.17.10
    DC
    Spreads
    Hummus (16 oz)
    3.49
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Spreads
    Hummus
    2.99
    Trader Joe's
    11.6.10
    SF
    Spreads
    Peanut butter, smucker's, crunchy
    3.1
    Safeway
    1.10.10
    DC
    Spreads
    Pumpkin butter
    2.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Spreads
    Strawberry Preserves
    2.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Spreads
    Calcium citrate
    3.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.14.10
    DC
    Supplements
    Chocolate Espresso Beans
    3.99
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Sweets
    Cinnamon Graham Cookies
    3.49
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Sweets
    Tofu, 19 oz
    1.49
    Trader Joe's
    10.2.10
    SF
    Tofu
    Tofu, Azumaya
    1.69
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Tofu
    Tofu, Baked Teriyaki, Two servings
    3.99
    Lucky
    9.5.10
    SF
    Tofu
    Tofu, firm, 14 ounces
    1.99
    Safeway
    1.24.10
    DC
    Tofu
    Tofu, firm, Azumaya
    1.99
    Safeway
    1.31.10
    DC
    Tofu
    Tofu, organic, 19 ounces
    1.49
    Trader Joe's
    10.9.10
    SF
    Tofu
    Tofu, organic, 20 ounces
    1.49
    Trader Joe's
    2.7.10
    DC
    Tofu
    This is a comparison of grocery stores that I put together - as you can see, it's fine to be messy and use shorthand. As you'll also see, I stand to save the most money from stores that have competitively priced grains, produce, and dairy :D

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